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China's fire protection infrastructure still inadequate

(Xinhua)

09:25, February 08, 2012

BEIJING, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- China's fire protection infrastructure is still inadequate, said a spokesman with the Ministry of Public Security in an interview with Xinhua on Tuesday, commenting on the relevance of a new State Council notice on stepping up fire protection.

The spokesman said the notice came forth as China is now facing pressing challenges of fire protection, pointing out lack of fire protection facilities, personnel and public awareness.

The spokesman said China still lags behind in fire protection infrastructure, including fire stations, fire-fighting water supply and fire lanes. Fire stations and extinguishers are insufficient in cities and meager in the countryside.

In addition, 167 county-level localities do not have fire departments, and 292 localities of the same level lack professional fire-fighting forces. The existing fire departments are usually understaffed.

Moreover, the spokesman called for raising public awareness of fire protection, saying migrant workers, elderly people and children in rural areas, in particular, lack fire safety know-how, and welders lack vocational training.

A total of 793,000 fire accidents happened from 2006 to 2010, leaving 7,202 dead and 4,501 injured, according to official statistics.

The State Council notice was published Monday, which stipulated tougher accountability measures in handling fire accidents.

"When major fire accidents occur, responsible leaders or heads of municipal governments will be held accountable. If an accident has grave consequences or a nasty social impact, responsible leaders in the provincial government will be held accountable," according to the circular.

The circular also set a target that an adequate fire protection system be built by 2015, with sufficient fire-fighting facilities and forces installed in both urban and rural areas and citizens informed of basic protection know-how.

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